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Jim Cox Report: May 2011

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

This past month I received something of a shock.

A postage fund donation had arrived in the mails. It was from a Canadian self-published author whose book we had reviewed and who wanted to express his appreciation for what we here at the Midwest Book Review try to accomplish in behalf of the small presses.

The postage stamp fund donation was in the form of a $50 Canadian Bank money order made out to the Midwest Book Review. I deposited it in our local bank and was informed by the teller that she would give me a call when this Canadian money order had cleared and let me know what the American dollar figure would be so that I could enter it in our records.

A week later I got the call. That $50 Canadian money order turned out to be worth $51.11 in American dollars. This is the first time in my 68 years that I became aware that the American dollar was worth less than the Canadian dollar.

I spoke of this to my bookseller friends and book review colleagues hereabout and discovered I was late in becoming aware of this fiscal fact. Apparently the Canadian dollar has been worth more than the American dollar for some time now!

It's very common for books arriving at the Midwest Book Review to have two cover prices -- one in American dollars and one in Canadian dollars. I had always taken for granted that the Canadian dollar amount would be higher than the American dollar amount. I've been looking more carefully at the books coming in these past few days and the weak American dollar vs the stronger Canadian dollar is clearly reflected in those dual price notations.

With the American dollar weakening to the point where the Canadian dollar is stronger, what are the implications for the American publishing industry? Especially for those publishers who sell editions of their books in both American and Canadian markets?

I have no idea, but would appreciate hearing from those more educated in the economics governing the seemingly slow demise of the American dollar's purchasing power.

When I was 12 or 13 and spending all of my allowance on paperback books. Back then the cover price for a mass market paperback was 25 cents. Now that same paperback is selling for $7.99 and more! That's an increase that's taken place over a fifty year time frame.

No wonder ebooks are making tremendous and steadily increasing inroads into the market share of print titles. Because you can buy an electronic book and read it on a Kindle for one or two dollars, when that same title in a traditional print edition will cost between 25 and 30 dollars, and the value of those American dollars is consistently eroding, it won't take a computer savvy younger generation much longer to abandoned print in favor of digital altogether.

I would truly like to hear the view points of others on this issue -- and this phenomena.

Now on to some reviews of 'how to' titles for writers and/or publishers:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Compelled to Write
David L. Wallace
Utah State University
7800 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
9780874218121, $26.95,

In the face of something not quite right, a writer leaps to the chance to write. "Compelled to Write: Alternative Rhetoric in Theory and Practice" looks at many people throughout the world who dared to speak up when there were many who wanted them silenced. From the women's right to speak, to trying to rise above stereotypical societal roles, to fighting for civil rights from the position of one who at first sight wouldn't have such issues affecting them. "Compelled to Write" takes the story of four such writers including names like Frederick Douglass and David Sedaris, to offer the drive behind writing, and how the pen can make a difference.

The Low-Residency MFA Handbook
Lori A. May
80 Maiden Lane, Suite 704, New York, NY 10038
9781441198440, $19.95,

A Master of Fine Arts degree is something quite prestigious to achieve, but it isn't always easy to cease your career to pursue it. "The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students" is an advisory for those who are pursuing their MFA and want to use the low-residency route to this level of degree. Made up of several brief residencies throughout the pursuit, Lori A. May fully describes what is required for to make this work, drawing on those who have experienced this on their route to their MFA. "The Low-Residency MFA Handbook" is a must for anyone trying to push their creative writing educational credentials to the next level.

Grace Dane Mazur
AK Peters
5 Commonwealth Road, Suite 2C, Natick, MA 01760
9781568817156, $29.95,

What are the limits of our imagination? They exist, but can we even comprehend them? "Hinges: Meditation on the Portals of Imagination" is an analysis of the drive of the creative, that those who dare enter it and what spurs them to create and push forward their ideas to make the most of everything around them. Grace Dane Mazur, as she asks the questions of why, the many whys that surround us and tries to find some semblance of reason behind it all. "Hinges" is an utterly fascinating read that explores the mind and what pushes us to create when we're already facing so much.

Now for some Q&A commentaries:

Here's an email exchange that will help those new to the Midwest Book Review understand a bit more clearly how we operate.

Dear Paul:

I'm always happy to converse about publishing. My responses follow your the questions you pose:

In a message dated 9/18/2010 12:35:25 P.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:

Dear Jim Cox,

Thanks for your interest in our books. We'll get the latest three out to you Monday.

Over the years you must have accumulated thousands of titles. Do you keep them? Do you give them away? Do you sell them to used bookstores?

Paul Dry

Dear Paul:

We average around 2300 titles a month coming in for review consideration. We have a finite amount of book shelves and so must be rigorous about keeping to our 'window of eligibility' time frame of 14 to 16 weeks once a book has passed our initial screening.

Books that are successfully assigned out for review become the property of the reviewer. Because all of our reviewers are unpaid volunteers, it is the only compensation they receive for the time and effort. They are free to dispose of them how ever they wish. Often those review copies are sold off to local used bookstores or given away to charities of one kind or another.

We do not keep books that failed to achieve a review assignment. Those are either sold off to a local used bookstore, donated to such organizations as "Friends of the Library" and the Wisconsin Correctional System (for prison libraries), or sent to a paper recycling outfit.

Any revenue from the sale of review copies is applied to our overhead expenses that our two annual foundation grants don't cover.

Dear Jim:

We have ceased printing advanced readers copies of each of our titles. The cost was high and the results did not seem to merit the costs. The email you responded to is our way of trying to reduce costs and point point reviewers who really are interested in considering our books for review. Do
you think this is a workable solution? Any advice you can give us will be appreciated.

Paul Dry

Dear Paul:

With respect to getting reviews, the only reason for ARCs or uncorrected proofs or galleys are of any value is for those pre-publication book review venues like Publisher's Weekly or the Library Journal. They are useless for post-publication review venues such as the Midwest Book Review, trade publications, TV and Radio shows.

It's always a good idea to use emails to vette potential reviewers for those that would be thematically appropriate and willing. It is also a very good idea to make and maintain an up-to-date list of reviewers that are reliable in such things as doing reviews for their books, plus providing copies of the reviews and some process of notifying publishers that a review has been done.

It's always good to hear from you. If memory serves, we here at the Midwest Book Review has been reviewing your titles for a number of years now. It helps when you do such consistently good work.

Keep in touch any time you have a question or comment. These particular questions pop up a few times a year so I'll use our little correspondence in one of my "Jim Cox Report" columns that I write every month for the benefit of the small press and independent publishing community.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Finally we have "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:

Anonymous #1 (Hartford, CT)
Anonymous #2 (Charlotte, NC)
David Bloch
Joanne Conrad
Alex Matthews
Yuri Shestopaloff
Wendy Jane Carrel
Davis K. Thanjan -- "Pebbles"
Tom Mach -- "Stories To Enjoy"
J. Milton Murphy -- "Rev. Bucky"
Amy Gross -- "The Polio Journals"
Patricia Rockwell -- "FM For Murder"
Ronald Louis Peterson -- "A Time To..."
Maggi A. Petton -- "The Queen's Companion"
Susan Colantuono -- "No Ceiling, No Walls"
Tesha Watkins -- "Joey and the Ancient Horn"
Barbara Frank -- "Thriving In The 21st Century"
Alex Carrick -- "Two Scoops" & "Three Scoops"
St. Padraic Press
A & N Publishing
Eldorado Ink, Publishers
Cindy Hampel -- Orange Sun Press
Michael Sanwey -- BRB Publications
Jacqueline Smay -- Conservatory Press
Robert Scott Leyse -- ShatterColors Press
Gayle S. Rozantine -- The Center for Health & Well-Being
Susan Gee Rumsey -- UC Natural Reserve System
Ellen Wade Beals -- Weighted Words LLC
Jim Mollenkopf -- Lake Of The Cat Publishing
Hyacinthe L. Raven -- Reality Asylum Books
Elke Weiss -- Free Focus Publishing
Maria Philip -- Asteroid Publishing
Keith Garton -- Red Chair Press
Charles G. Irion -- CGI Irion Books
Barbara Wall -- The Barrett Company
Whitney P. Kuefler -- Finney Company
George C. Connolly -- Crosswinds Press
Russell G. Rodrigue -- Rodrigue & Sons Co.
Don Bracken -- History Publishing Company
Nigel Yorwerth -- Yorwerth Associates
Beth Blenz-Clucas -- Sugar Mountain PR
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Maryglenn McCombs -- MM Book Publicity

If you have postage to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advanced Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.

All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website. If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.

So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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